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updated: 10/15/2012 4:39 PM

Elgin budget decisions expected to be easier for 2013

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With much of the hard work already done, Elgin City Council members will begin discussing the 2013 budget and the 2013-2017 financial plan on Friday.

A budget working session is planned to start at 6:30 p.m. in the Heritage Ballroom at The Centre, 100 Symphony Way. Council members will hear an update on 2012 revenues as well as expected adjustments to the current-year budget. City Manager Sean Stegall said the meeting will lay the foundation for revenue predictions in 2013 but details for the city's financial future will come primarily in November.

This year's budget planning process is expected to be far smoother than last year's marathon sessions, task force input and complicated proposals incorporating several different scenarios.

"Because we do a five-year financial plan, it created a need for the city council to solve the majority of our structural issues last year," Stegall said, adding that major policy decisions -- like adding multiple new taxes or significantly cutting services -- already have been made.

The proposed budget will be released Nov. 2 to council members and posted on the city's website. It will be discussed by section until Dec. 19, when the council will have to adopt it before filing the budget and tax levy Dec. 21.

Stegall said the city will be reaching out to residents about the budget through a social media campaign and a special newsletter. No Saturday morning public hearing is scheduled but it is on the table as an option, depending on the level of community interest.

"There will be a lot of focus on demonstrating to the council and the community how we're implementing the plan that we started last year," Stegall said.

The city council will discuss the general fund Nov. 7 after a budget process overview to start the public conversation. The Riverboat Fund is on the agenda for a Nov. 14 meeting with utility; parks and recreation and other non-major funds to be discussed Nov. 28. The council will also discuss user fees at the final meeting in November.

For agendas and location details of meetings throughout the budget process, visit cityofelgin.org.

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